Anxiety is America’s #1 Mental Health Problem
An estimated 40-M Americans, about 18% of the population over 18 anni, struggle with anxiety, including more than 50% of all American college students
Anxiety is the new depression, recent research shows anxiety, a condition characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear, is now 800% more prevalent than all forms of cancer, and may actually be the core cause for many cancers.
A Y 2016 report by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State confirmed the trend, finding anxiety and depression are the most common concerns among college students who seek counseling.
Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the US may be as high as 40-M, or about 18% of the population over 18 anni, making it the most common mental illness in the USA.
There are many treatment options available, and some of the most effective treatments are also among the safest and least expensive, and they do not involve drugs.
Anxiety: A Medical Condition Driven by Sociological Conditions?
Commenting on the featured video, Huffington Post writes: “A person with high functioning anxiety can look calm on the surface, but underneath that practiced veneer, their thoughts are churning. That’s the message behind a new video from ‘The Mighty,’ in which a young woman describes the experience of living with the condition, which is characterized by persistent negative thoughts, restlessness and even physical symptoms like muscle tension …”
The Big Q’s: What is at the heart of all this anxiety?
What’s causing all these persistent negative thoughts?
Why the chronic restlessness?
The NY-T’s addressed the rising prevalence of anxiety in a recent article, noting: “While to epidemiologists the disorder is a medical condition, anxiety is starting to seem like a sociological condition, too: a shared cultural experience that feeds on alarmist CNN graphics and metastasizes through social media …
‘If you’re a human being living in 2017 and you’re not anxious, there’s something wrong with you’ … We have entered a new Age of Anxiety. Monitoring our heart rates. Swiping ceaselessly at our iPhones …
Consider the fidget spinner: endlessly whirring between the fingertips of ‘Generation Alpha,’ annoying teachers, baffling parents …
According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, some 38% of girls ages 13 through 17, and 26% of boys, have an anxiety disorder
Meanwhile, the number of web searches involving the term has nearly 2X’d over the last five years …”
Kai Wright, host of the political podcast “The United States of Anxiety,” attributes the current trend to the fact that we’ve been at war for over 15 years, have faced 2 recessions in that same frame, and have had to adjust to a swiftly changing digital landscape, which in turn has changed how we work and interact.
“Everything we consider to be normal has changed. And nobody seems to trust the people in charge to tell them where they fit into the future,” he says.
Andrea Petersen, author of “On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety,” interviewed students at University of Michigan for her book, some of whom revealed the internal pressure cooker was turned on far earlier than you might expect.
In his Times article, Alex Williams writes: “One student, who has ADHD, anxiety and depression, said the pressure began building in middle school when she realized she had to be at the top of her class to get into high school honors classes, which she needed to get into Advanced Placement classes, which she needed to get into college. ‘In sixth grade,’ she said, ‘kids were freaking out.’ This was not the stereotypical experience of Generation X …
‘In addition to the normal chaos of being a human being, there is what almost feels like Weaponized uncertainty thrown at us on a daily basis,’ said Kat Kinsman, the ‘Hi, Anxiety’ author.
President Donald Trump is the 1st politician in history whose preferred mode of communication is the 3:00a. Tweet …
‘We live in a country where we cannot even agree on a basic set of facts,’ said Dan Harris, an ABC news correspondent and ‘Nightline’ anchor …”
Genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events play a role in the development of anxiety disorders, stress is a common trigger.
Anxiety is a normal response to stress, but in some people the anxiety becomes overwhelming and difficult to cope with, to the point that it affects their day-to-day living.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains how your brain reacts to stress, and how the anxiety response is triggered: “Several parts of the brain are key actors in the production of fear and anxiety … scientists have discovered that the amygdala and the hippocampus play significant roles in most anxiety disorders.
The amygdala … is believed to be a communications hub between the parts of the brain that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret these signals. It can alert the rest of the brain that a threat is present and trigger a fear or anxiety response.
The emotional memories stored in the central part of the amygdala may play a role in anxiety disorders involving very distinct fears, such as fears of dogs, spiders or flying. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that encodes threatening events into memories.”
A number of other situations and underlying issues can also contribute to the problem.
Breathing Has a Direct Influence on Anxiety
The way you breathe is intricately connected to your mental state. Patrick McKeown is a leading expert on the Buteyko Breathing Method, where he explains how breathing affects your mind, body and health.
The above video features Robert Litman, he addresses the relationship between breathing and anxiety.
According to Buteyko, the founder of the method, anxiety is triggered by an imbalance between gases in your body, specifically the ratio between carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen.
In this video, Mr. Litman explains how our breathing affects the ratio of these gases, and demonstrates how you can literally breathe your way into a calmer state of mind.
A Buteyko breathing exercise that can help quell anxiety is summarized below.
This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate CO2, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state.
- Take a small breath into your nose, a small breath out; hold your nose for 5 seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release to resume breathing.
- Breathe normally for 10 secs.
- Repeat the sequence several more times: small breath in through your nose, small breath out; hold your breath for 5 secos, then let go and breathe normally for 10 secs.
Mr. McKeown has also written a book specifically aimed at the treatment of anxiety through optimal breathing, called “Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind — Featuring the Buteyko Breathing Method and Mindfulness,” which can be found on Amazon.com.
In addition to the book, ButeykoClinic.com also offers a one-hour online course and an audio version of the book, along with several free chapters and accompanying videos.
Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist, has also written an excellent book called “Breathe.” In it, she details a program that can help improve your physical and mental health. Check her program out too.
Anxiety can significantly reduce the quality of life, so it is worth it to keep going and find a proper long-term solution.
And please do not underestimate the value of face-to-face social interactions, not via social media. Lack of social interaction has become so widespread, some establishments have taken to turning off their Wi-Fi in an effort to encourage human interaction.
Find a place where you can go and help create a social vibe, a place for human interaction, say a real Coffee Shop, I like Javista when in Los Angeles, check it out. People talk to one another at Javista. And the Organic coffee is terrific and prepared with love!
Mindfulness and spiritual pursuits, social interaction helps foster meaning and purpose in life, thereby protecting and improving our mental health.
Breathe, Forgive, Live, Help Make Peace.
Have a terrific weekend.